Ed­i­tor’s Let­ter

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS -

IN OUR AR­TI­CLE about Naumkeag’s re­stored gar­dens, one cap­tion refers to a ha-ha, a term un­fa­mil­iar to most Amer­i­cans. And so this di­gres­sion: A ha-ha is a re­cess cre­at­ing a ver­ti­cal bar­rier that, un­like a fence, pre­serves an un­in­ter­rupted view of the land­scape. The de­vice uses an in­cline slop­ing to a steep face, which may be re­in­forced with a ma­sonry re­tain­ing wall. Live­stock and wildlife are thus pre­vented from get­ting too close to gar­dens and liv­ing ar­eas around the house. Ha-has are also used to pre­vent ve­hi­cles from travers­ing a lawn.

Old deer parks in Eng­land had sunken ditches that al­lowed deer to en­ter but not get out. Men­tion of ha-has (or ah-ahs) is traced back to the late 17th cen­tury in France, and refers to an open­ing in a wall with a lined ditch be­low—but no gate to im­pede the view. The ha-ha was an im­por­tant de­vice in cre­at­ing the sweep­ing views of 18th-cen­tury land­scape ar­chi­tect Ca­pa­bil­ity Brown. The French, along with English art his­to­rian Ho­race Walpole and Thomas Jef­fer­son, credit the name as an ex­pres­sion of sur­prise and hu­mor (at find­ing the sud­den drop-off dur­ing a stroll). My own first en­counter with a ha-ha was while walk­ing my dog after dusk on a de­serted golf course. Luke was young and fast; when, run­ning ahead, he sud­denly dis­ap­peared, scratch­ing the air like Wile E. Coy­ote and land­ing with a thunk, I burst out with “ha ha ha” once I knew he was un­hurt. Other words in this is­sue:

a Foursquare We mean the near-cu­bic Amer­i­can Foursquare that was wildly pop­u­lar from the late 1890s through about 1930. It has a hipped or pyra­mi­dal roof, usu­ally at least one dormer, and a large front porch. a Bat­tered Hav­ing slop­ing faces or sides, wider at the bot­tom and ta­per­ing at the top. a Flori­bunda Abun­dantly flow­er­ing or with dense flower clus­ters, like the roses at Naumkeag. a Uso­nian A ref­er­ence to Frank Lloyd Wright’s con­cept for af­ford­able houses in the U.S., 1930s–50s. (And now I leave you to the Ja­panese sprin­kled through­out the ar­ti­cle be­gin­ning on page 40.)

Patricia Poore, Ed­i­tor

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